When the Affordable Care Act was established, the primary goal of the Act was to ensure all Americans had affordable healthcare. The concepts of subsidies and marketplaces were designed to connect the uninsured with an easy online shopping experience that enabled them to choose health insurance and, for those that were eligibly, to offer subsidies to make the plans affordable. However just days after the reopening of the marketplaces for the second open enrollment period, the prevailing sentiment from the uninsured is that the plans offered are too expensive.

Out of the people surveyed in the uninsured group, about 49 percent plan to get health insurance in the coming months through the exchanges. Within this 49 percent, as many as one fourth of the participants felt that they needed health insurance, and that was the primary reason for getting it. On the other hand, 41 percent of individuals thought that they would remain uninsured in the coming months. Out of this 41 percent, nearly 25 percent felt that they would not be able to find an affordable plan on the exchanges, and would have to go uninsured through the coming year.

There were some other disturbing revelations in the poll that exposed the gaps in Obamacare’s outreach. For instance, even after strong marketing and community events, almost 90 percent of the surveyed were not aware of the starting date of the second open enrollment period. From the uninsured group, almost 80 percent felt that they need health insurance, but only 62 percent felt that having health insurance was absolutely essential for them.

This trend corroborates the fact that, unlike last year, it will be harder for the Obama Administration to have the same enrollment success. Last year, the exchanges were able to enroll 8 million people, even after the initial failure of the exchanges. The window of enrollment was 6 months long. This time, however, the window is cut in half, with only 3 months available. It is imperative for the Obama Administration to inform more people, as it seems that not everyone is onboard with the details about Obamacare and how they can benefit from the law. Furthermore, people who really wanted the affordable health insurance the most probably enrolled last year, and the remaining uninsured are either not interested in the law or not aptly informed.

Although these polls were limited to determine the outreach and impact of the events conducted by the Obama Administration to inform the public about the second open enrollment, there were some other discoveries which showed that the average American is still not certain whether Obamacare has made a huge difference in their quality of life. In fact, 24 percent respondents felt that their families have been hurt due to the rollout of the law, while 16 percent felt that they have benefitted from the law. In terms of outlook toward the law, 37 percent people favored the law; while 46 percent viewed it unfavorably.

As Republicans take over the Senate, it is unsure what impact will be made to the ACA.  With 29 percent favoring a repeal, 17 percent think that it would be best to control some aspects of the law and scale it back. On the positive side, 20 percent people feel that it is better to allow the law to take its course, while 22 percent feel that the law should be allowed to expand. With Republicans gathering power in both the houses, it will be tough for the Obama Administration to keep the law with its most important aspects intact. If the Obama Administration does not motivate enough uninsured to get health insurance in this enrollment period and change the public outlook by Feb 15, it could be a tough 2015 ahead for Obamacare.

When Florida indicated it was in agreement with Obamacare on expanding Medicaid for its residents at the beginning of 2013, low income Floridians heaved a sigh of relief. This expansion under the Affordable Care Act was to be their shot at better, affordable health care in a state where high unemployment and poverty rates were very high. However, by the end of 2014, Florida is still not ready with the Medicaid expansion after nearly two years of siding with the program

Through a decision was made by Governor Rick Scott and the state accepted federal funds by agreeing to expand Medicaid for low income Floridians, the state has not gone through with the actions, leaving the federal funding out of reach of the taxpayers. Ultimately, Florida decided not to expand Medicaid, leaving its people stranded in the Obamacare coverage gap.

Now, since Florida has no plans to expand Medicaid, low income adults of the state are earning too little to qualify for premium tax credits under the Affordable Care Act. In states that expanded Medicaid the situation of these young adults would have been much better. For example, in California, a low earning young individual with an annual income of $12,000 would only be required to pay $20 per month for health insurance premiums. If the annual income is less than $11,000, the health insurance coverage is free of cost. In these where Medicaid is expanding, both the cost cutting facets of ACA are being put to use. People are either earning enough to qualify for premium tax credits that cut down their health insurance premiums to nominal price, or earning so little that they fall under the net of expanded Medicaid.

Without the Medicaid expansion in Florida, nearly 1 million people do not have access to better health coverage. Out of these 1 million, a little more than 33 percent are young adults with insufficient annual earnings. As many as 25 percent of young Floridians in the age group of 18 to 34 live in poverty, and for a state without Medicaid, the situation is naturally bad. Rising education costs and falling employment rates are some other troubles that are hounding this age group, ultimately causing them to be unfit and being the second most common age group that uses the emergency room, after the seniors.

With young, uninsured Floridians struggling with employment, income, and health insurance, the state administration definitely needs find a solution. Fortunately, the state administration admits that the coverage gap is a pain for Floridians and the state is ready to make some amends to close this gap as soon as possible. The state might actually take a leaf from Arkansas’ book and deliver a better solution. Instead of using the help of public programs, the state might use the available federal funding to pay for private health insurance that can cover some of these low-income young individuals. These private plans could provide these individuals with much needed coverage without turning into a liability on public programs, a facet that could satisfy conservatives and liberals both.

In any case, Florida’s leadership needs to move quickly. After the recent elections, the new legislative session will see a renewed debate on the health coverage gap, and if Governor Rick Scott prepares in advance, he could save a lot of time and energy of the session by providing them with a viable plan that can satisfy both the parties. Without an extended, contentious debate, the leadership can affect a closure of the health coverage gap for these young, uninsured individuals who are struggling to make ends meet.

As the second open enrollment period has been posting strong enrollment numbers and a wider acceptance of the law, there is a surprise winner in the falling, or stable in some cases, Obamacare premiums. As opposed to experts and the Administration’s guesses, the premiums for most insurance plans across states are either falling or staying constant, with only a few states recording premium increases in just a few plans. Read more

Non-citizens are three times more likely to be uninsured than U.S. residents. With nearly 10 million legal immigrants living in the country, the high percentage of uninsured among them means a bigger target for Obamacare. During rollout last year, the Obama administration was extremely concerned about the health insurance status of this section, and implemented some methods to make sure that sufficient enrollments came through immigrants. As per the Affordable Care Act, legal immigrants are mandated to get health insurance under the Obamacare marketplaces or face tax penalties for non-compliance. Although enrollments have come through, the majority of immigrants have no idea of how their health insurance works, and how are they supposed to make use of it. Read more

In the first part of this post, we discussed how public vs private enrollment is progressing, and private exchange enrollment is set to out-enroll public exchanges by a decent margin. In the scheme of things, small businesses are being left out. Small businesses lack the bulk power of large businesses, and that’s why traditional health plans have never truly focused on small businesses. With Obamacare SHOP exchanges, however, enrollment for small businesses is going to change. Before we begin with an analysis of SHOP exchange data, let’s take a look at how health insurance has traditionally worked in small and large employers. Read more

With 8 million enrollments, 6.8 million people taking advantage of subsidized health insurance, millions of people with preexisting medical conditions gaining better health insurance coverage – the winners of Obamacare have been enjoying noteworthy achievements. Between Medicaid expansion and Obamacare implementation, several people who could not afford insurance earlier are now successfully enrolled in a health insurance plan. Small businesses, which were handicapped earlier to provide better health insurance to their employees, have SHOP exchanges on the very near horizon. Surprisingly, these obvious winners aren’t the only ones who are making the most use of Obamacare. Let’s take a look at a chance winner of this implementation – alt-labor groups. Read more

Traditionally, young, healthy individuals have sacrificed the option of buying health insurance for having more liquidity and ability to pay rent and bills. Between competing for a highly coveted job and planning for the future, young individuals feel that they don’t have the time or resources to waste on health insurance. And why should they, when individuals under 26 rarely visit the doctor and generally enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Well, the answer to that is the high probability of a serious accident or an illness that could add up to thousands of dollars in bills and drug costs. So if you are one of those that wants to be insured in case of a mishap, here are the top things you need to know about getting health insurance in post Obamacare world.
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The second open enrollment period is quickly approaching and the biggest question on everyone’s mind is – how will Obamacare premiums behave in the second year of reformed health insurance coverage? We are roughly two months away from open enrollment and any solid number on rate increase is far from available. As we approach November 15, most health plans across different states will show how premium rates will increase for 2015. However, we are currently limited to projections of how Obamacare will look like in the second year of coverage.
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As you know, Obamacare was designed to lower uninsured rates and drive America to a fully insured, highly efficient healthcare system. Although the rollout of the law that set such ambitious aims for itself was disappointing, the end result was laudable with 8 million Americans enrolling for insurance coverage. Since the inception of the law, the country was divided into two camps, States which decided to build their own exchanges and States that refused.

Now, it appears that the States that created state-based exchanges are boasting the lowest uninsured rates in the country.
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The Obamacare death spiral was a topic of debate in 2014. Opponents of Obamacare projected that there weren’t enough young, healthy individuals enrolled with the system, and that the law would collapse under its own weight. Although that collapse did not come to pass, Obamacare still requires a large number of young individuals who can help offset the costs of premiums and control the premium increases scheduled for 2015. Naturally to accomplish this, the Obama administration needs to rengage the young population and encourage them to enroll in an exchange.
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